True-crime shows are often dramatized and generously sprinkled with fictionalized tidbits to make them more palatable for viewers. However, often shows sacrifice accuracy for the sake of wider audience bases and the latest Jeffrey Dahmer series by Netflix seems to have done a similar thing, as reported by The Independent. The crime reporter–Anne E. Schwartz–who originally broke the Dahmer story told the publication that the filmmakers behind Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story took “artistic license” with many key details and that the storyline “does not bear a great deal of resemblance to the facts of the case.”
The ex-crime reporter clarified that many incidents depicted in the movie are either overtly dramatized or completely fictionalized. She told the same publication: “When people are watching Ryan Murphy’s Netflix series and saying ‘Oh my God this is terrible’. I want to tell them it didn’t necessarily turn out that way.”
Schwartz revealed that she was working as a crime reporter when the gruesome case was first discovered. She was one of the first on the crime scene except for several law enforcement officers. She received a tip-off from a police source to say they had found a human head and body parts inside a Milwaukee city apartment. At the time, in 1991, Schwartz was working for the Milwaukee Journal, a local newspaper.
Schwartz also clarified and explained a few integral parts of the Netflix special such as in one of the first scenes where his neighbour Glenda Cleveland was introduced, who had initially tried to alert police officials to Dahmer’s killing spree and was depicted as living in a neighbouring apartment, was far away from the reality. According to Schwartz, Ms. Cleveland, who died in 2011, lived in a separate building.
Another important clarification that she made was that the Netflix show in the first few episodes itself portrayed a rotting, putrid smell that was akin to rotting flesh. Schwartz refuted it and said that she was aware of what decomposed flesh smelled like and that the odour emanating from the Oxford apartments was of a chemical nature. She said, “I know what it smells like when you walk into a building with a dead body or a decomposing body. This was not that. This was a very chemical smell.”